Whether you’re building an ADU for aging parents, a child returning home, or just want to make sure your secondary unit can accommodate any family member or visitor regardless of their age or physical abilities, accessibility is a crucial consideration.
Accessibility encompasses everything from the width of hallways and doorways to the height of light switches, appliances, and outlets. It means building an environment suited for people with mobility limitations while also keeping suited for the able-bodied. And ADU builders are the best option to achieve this in your secondary unit.
Universal Design Principles
By focusing on key areas and employing universal design principles, you can construct an Accessory Dwelling Unit with nearly everyone in mind:
- At least one no-step entrance, ideally covered with a roof for weather protection
- Wide hallways and doorways (36 inches+)
- Lever-handle doorknobs and handles
- Rocker or touch light switches between 39-48 inches high
- Smooth, non-slip flooring that allows wheeled mobility
- Reinforced walls to allow future grab bar installation
- Kitchens and bathrooms designed for roll-in showers and clear floor spaces
Smart Home Technology
Integrating home automation products and smart technology allows controlling various functions remotely. This assists those with limited mobility or strength to easily:
- Adjust lighting, temperature
- Lock/unlock doors
- Control appliances
- Receive notifications
- Communicate with visitors
By enabling environmental control through wall panels, mobile devices or voice assistants, users don’t have to move around excessively or depend entirely on caregivers.
Scalable for Changing Needs
When an in-law suite or backyard cottage is designed thoughtfully from the outset for universal access, it more readily accommodates evolving demands. What someone needs at age 30 differs from age 60 or 90.
By implementing accessible features integrated aesthetically into the original build, additional retrofits become less necessary down the road. If more intensive accommodation proves essential, the groundwork is already laid. That foresight saves money and headaches.
Gradual Home Modification
Providing features like blocking in walls for future grab bars or selecting intermediate height counters and sinks (34-36 inches) suits more people than alternatives that limit options. As long as pathways remain clear, larger remodels may not be imminent.
Aging in Place
The senior population, a prime ADU demographic, continues growing exponentially. A unit built new with their needs in mind allows comfortably remaining in a familiar community rather than moving to specialized housing. Design elements fostering independence and safety assists family members too.
Appealing Design for All
Accessibility done well integrates discreetly into aesthetics and need not appear institutional or unappealing. It can even enhance decor through attributes like:
- Spacious, clutter-free pathways
- Flat/seamless transitions between flooring
- Comfort height toilets
- Curbless showers
- Cabinetry at varying heights
- Lever-style handles
- Recessed panels for installing shelves/hooks
Creating accessible outdoor living areas allows everyone to equally enjoy fresh air and the calming aspects of nature. This could involve:
- Lever-style door handles for exiting outside
- Ample landing space at exits
- Smooth, slip-resistant patio materials
- Wide pathways through garden areas
- Raised planter beds for gardening tasks
- Outdoor stairways with handrails
- Patio areas with sun/shade options
An ADU built with visiting friends and family members in mind allows strengthening social bonds through hosting intimate get-togethers comfortably. By facilitating connection opportunities, an accessible secondary residence combats isolation risks. This assists in maintaining both physical and mental wellbeing at every age.
An occupational therapist or aging in place specialist can further advise incorporating custom-tailored assistive features suitable for both form and function. The optimal accessibility balance means creating an ADU building or remodeling project for now that additionally sustains later. With smart planning, you foster an adaptable sanctuary able to meet evolving demands of life. Everyone deserves feeling empowered to navigate their surroundings freely.